ERIC Number: ED232176
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Aug-6
Reference Count: 0
News Context and the Elimination of Mobilizing Information: An Experiment with Professional Journalists.
Lemert, James B.
To determine whether journalists withhold mobilizing information (any information that allows people to act on the attitudes and desires they already have), 56 professional journalists were asked to edit a nine-paragraph story about a wave of beetles that supposedly threatened large stands of timber. There were two versions of this story: the controversial context version and the positive context version. Each version of the story contained identical sets of mobilizing information (MI) in the fourth, sixth, eighth, and ninth paragraphs. The editing task was explained as a "study in editing," and neither the concept of MI nor the existence of MI in the stories was mentioned during the entire test session. Results showed that the experienced professinals did eliminate more MI when the story was controversial, and the barriers they raised against MI in the controversial context rose even higher as soon as it was suggested that the story be cut. In contrast, MI continued to be relatively untouched when the journalists looked for ways to cut positive context stories by one, two, and four paragraphs. The results produced the overriding impression that, somehow, the MI was less "relevant" and "necessary" when it appeared in a controversial public affairs story than when it appeared in a positive context news item. (Copies of the two versions of the story are appended.) (HOD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Mobilizing Information
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (66th, Corvallis, OR, August 6-9, 1983).